PINEHURST, N.C. – Hayden Anderson aced the par-3 ninth hole with a 5-iron to spark a Georgia Southern run, and the Eagles held off Chattanooga by a stroke to claim the Southern Conference Men’s Golf Championship Tuesday at National Golf Club.
It was Anderson’s second hole-in-one this season, and the Eagles, who competed in the SoCon Championship for the final time, won their fourth title in school history. Anderson has the distinction of having played on two of those quintets as the senior was in the lineup on the 2011 team that won at the Country Club of South Carolina.
The Eagles were 1-over on the day and had a four-shot lead heading into the final hole, but Georgia Southern played the par-4 18th hole 4-over, leaving the door open for Chattanooga. The Mocs’ Chris Robb, who was 7-under on the day, had a 25-foot birdie putt to tie and force a playoff, but the ball just squeaked over the right edge, giving the Eagles (+9) the 1-stroke victory.
Charlie Martin posted nine birdies and shot a 1-under 71 to lead the Eagles, and Anderson finished with a 73. Henry Mabbett carded a 74, and Will Evans notched a 75. Scott Wolfes, who started the day 6-over after four holes, grinded his way to a 76.
“Charlie’s round took a couple years off my life with nine birdies to shoot 71, and it was a roller coaster ride all day,” said Georgia Southern coach Larry Mays. “I’m really proud of this crew. This is a special group of guys. They worked hard for this, and they deserved it.”
Chattanooga (+10) finished second, followed by UNCG (+13) and Western Carolina (+14). Catamount J.T. Poston (-10) won medalist honors, and Robb finished second (-8). Martin (E) placed fourth for the Eagles, Evans (+2) tied for sixth and Wolfes (+3) tied for ninth after shooting a 66 Monday.
The Eagles started the day slowly and were 5-over through the first two holes, but got things going right before the turn. Anderson’s ace with a 5-iron helped Georgia Southern play holes 9 and 10 4-under and get things headed in the right direction on the back nine.
“It was a tucked pin on the left side with water on the left and the wind in our face, and I knew if the ball landed in the middle of the green, it would trickle down,” said Anderson. “I was able to hit a shot that started a little right, came back left and hit the slope about 10 feet away, and eventually it rolled in.”
Mays was named the SoCon Coach of the Year, while Wolfes, Evans and Martin all earned all-conference honors.
The Eagles will be back in action at the NCAA Regionals at a site to be determined May 15-17. Georgia Southern will find out its destination on the NCAA Selection Show May 5.